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End-game for salmon netting at Mudeford

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AS PREVIOUSLY reported on Fish and Fly, the latest step in the North Atlantic Salmon Fund (NASF)’s conservation campaign to buy out salmon nets wherever Atlantic salmon swim has focused on the Dorset village of Mudeford. We can now report, and with much credit to the conservation parties involved, that the deal is done.

No longer will the last remaining netsmen will be able to impede the passage of salmon to the River Avon and River Stour spawning grounds and in the tried and tested NASF formula, ancient netting rights have been exchanged for a financial compensation package.

Icelander Orri Vigfusson, who orchestrated the buy-out of the extensive north-east of England drift-nets in 2003 is now celebrating the latest step in his 23-year campaign. ‘This new agreement shows everybody recognises there is a problem with salmon numbers and we need to work together to resolve it,’ said Orri, 69.

And it is local conservationist Brian Marshall (who himself played a key role in the buy-out of the salmon drift-nets off the west coast of Ireland) who also took a keen interest in the Mudeford nets campaign.

It should be added that both rods and nets have played their part over recent years in the conservation campaign, releasing salmon caught. But numbers had plunged from 1,400 fish a year in the Seventies to a combined net and rod catch of only 73 in the 2010 season.

The Environment Agency was also involved in negotiating the agreement, which centred on the fishing operations within Christchurch harbour. Some fishermen were against the deal and argued they had been netting the harbour for years but missed out on the compensation payment because they had not bought a licence for the past two seasons. The amount received by the licensed netsmen has not been revealed.

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